July 7 1815: Fatal Victory

Cam hobhouse learns of the death of his brother Benjamin Hobhouse at the battle of Waterloo.

Friday July 7th 1815: I hired a horse to ride out to enquire concerning a point which occupied my whole soul, but in which, to say the truth, having read the list of killed and wounded, I had a feeling of good fortune – I had little apprehension – I shall spare myself the recital here of the manner in which I learnt how sadly I was mistaken, and what a wound was to be made in my heart by the loss of the most affectionate, the bravest and the most honorable of men – the flower certainly of our unfortunate family, unfortunate I say because it has to regret his fall.700 The whole loss of the British Army in that fatal victory is in my mind reduced to one soldier.701 Had he lived, he would have made his family happy and proud, but I fear his advancement would not have been sufficiently rapid to keep pace with his wishes to be serviceable, and to be distinguished, nor with his just sense of his own superiority. I could do nothing for him in the present state of domestic politics, and his father did not know the way. Had he been on the staff, it is probable that service less exposed than regimental duty would have given us a chance of his days being prolonged, but it useless and painful to think so. I do not think he was happy, nor indeed do I know any man, who thinks as much as he did, that is. His health was much impaired by his duty in Spain. In this manner do I attempt to reconcile myself to that which admits of alleviation but not cure. This is the second great blow I have received,the second of my social comforts that has dropped away.703 One or two more such avulsions and I shall have no part of me left – life would be intolerable – I never did anything in my life for my poor brother, nor do I know that I could – but I might and ought to have tried. I was not unkind – that is all I can say for myself, either with respect to him or any of my family – I envy him, as I do everyone who has lived honorably and ceased to live. 

The topic of consolation which Sulpitius suggests to Cicero might be supposed peculiarly applicable to this sad event, for my brother falls with an Empire with whose recent ruins I am now surrounded – I need not, however, say that this consideration, except so far as it causes some occasional distraction, affords not the least comfort. My eyes are solely fixed upon the mite which has been wrung from me to contribute to the mass of misery. I think, however, I do feel some consolation from the horror and aversion – the hatred, rather – which I now feel more than ever for the sanguinary
policy of my countrymen, and the abominable cause of the late exiled tyrants of France. I did not know before that sorrow was so savage. This is the last allusion I shall make to this fatal event – I resort to silence, as when my dear friend died.

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